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Whitestone Parish Council

Minutes of Whitestone Parish Council held at Whitestone Parish Hall on Thursday 11th January 2018 at 7.30pm.

Attendance: Chairman - Councillor L Hickman
Councillors Mrs M Belt, Mrs L Fairley, D Munro, Mrs B Netherway, R Phillips, A Reed, A Rose.
District Councillor P Bromell
Mrs P Vaughan, Clerk to the Council.
Mrs S Greenfield, Mr P Nierop, Mr M Quinn.

Apologies Cllr Ms T Baird, Cllr Mrs B Bramhall, County Councillor A Connett.

1. Cllr Hickman opened the meeting and the Minutes of the Council Meeting held on Thursday 14th December 2017 having been circulated were taken as read and signed by the Chairman.

2. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

Mr Nierop stated that he was in attendance in regard to the notification in the December minutes of the Parish Council’s resolution to increase the Precept by 2% which would result in an increase in Council Tax for parishioners. He felt that this increase was unjustified in view of the reserves which the Council hold as the advice of the Council’s Internal Auditor in 2015 was “that reserves should be equivalent to between 3 and 12 months expenditure”. He produced and made reference to a number of documents and distributed a summary of reserves, budgets and precepts which he had compiled to support his points, as indicated below:-

Fiscal Year

Reserves

Budget

Precept

2011/12

£8,760

£7,000

2012/13

£11,893

£20,750

£7,000

2013/14

£17,283

£20,736

£6,000

2014/15

£11,024

£19,459

£6,000

2015/16

£17,847

£19,665

£6,000

2016/17

£21,223

£18,190

£6,000

2017/18

£30,572

£18,043

£6,000

2018/19

£34,214

£20,135

£6,120

Cllr Hickman thanked him for the work he had put into this presentation. He responded that it was considered that the revenue from the Precept is to manage Parish annual costs which was separate from the Reserves, this approach is built on the policy adopted by previous Councils. It was pointed out that the figures being presented included facts that occurred prior to this Council being elected. He went on to state that it was anticipated that more responsibilities would be handed over from Devon County and Teignbridge District Council in the future and it was felt that the Parish should be financially prepared to take these on board as well as having available funds for enhancements within the Parish. In addition, holding a reserve is appropriate should any unforeseen eventualities occur with School Houses, (the only income generating assets owned by the Parish Council), the income from which had been used to offset any increase in Precept for some years. This year’s increase is negligible for each household but acts as a balanced approach to the Parish’s financial position (£120 for the year, divided by all households). Additionally whilst awaiting the final Parish Plan within that document it is expected that items will be raised which will require financial backing from the Council, thus this small increase will act as a contribution to achieving some of these goals.

Several queries were raised by Mr Nierop and Mr Quinn that resulted in a robust and frank discussion between the Councillors and members of the public. Mrs Greenfield contributed with comments arising from the Parish Plan where some parishioners had indicated their support for a rise in the Precept.

Mr Quinn then raised concerns that from the information he held it was indicated that the rental for 1 School Houses had remained constant for a number of years unlike 2 School House where the rent has been increased twice in recent times. He asked why the properties are treated differently and was the advice of the Letting Agents sought in reaching this decision on an annual basis.

Cllr Hickman responded on a number of occasions that he was not able to confirm the position at the meeting due to not having the appropriate information at hand, however, he believed that this was the expected role of the Letting Agents as our knowledgeable experts who would thus be aware of the commercial rental values. From the information presented to the Parish Council as a basis for this discussion the rental income from the houses has continued to exceed Parish expenditure, therefore at present these properties bring a financial benefit to the Parish.

Following the robust discussion about both the matters raised Mr Nierop and Mr Quinn left the meeting.

Councillors wished to record that whilst they recognised the School Houses absolutely need to generate an appropriate financial return the houses remain an integral part of the Parish and as such this supports the Parish Council’s commitment to offering homes, particularly to people with families who wish to live within the Parish.

Cllrs Hickman and Reed confirmed they will make arrangements to discuss the issue with the Letting Agents.

3. REPORT FROM DISTRICT COUNCILLOR

District Councillor Bromell stated that he had no items to report.

4. PLANNING

Grant of Conditional Planning Permission

4.1. 17/02264/FUL Erection of an agricultural building to cover existing manure store at Woodhay Farm.

4.2 17/02902/FUL Single storey rear extension at 16 Merrymeet.

Prior Approval not required

4.3 17/02764/AGR Agricultural store on land off Pound Lane.

Refusal of Request for Prior Approval

4.4 17/02645/NPA Application for Prior Approval under Part 3 Class Q (a) and (b) and paragraph W of the GDPO change of use of two agricultural buildings to three dwellings at Devon View.

Proposal does not constitute permitted development and requires planning permission

4.5 17/02963/AGR Agricultural building together with provision of access track on land adjacent to Old Chapel, Whitestone.

5. MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION

5.1 School Houses - Nothing to report

5.2 Crossway Park - It was noted that repairs to the playground equipment has not yet been carried out by Sovereign and Cllr Hickman will be contacting them in regard to this.

5.3 Environmental Matters Update - Cllr Hickman reported that he has not yet completed the painting of the plough for installation on the milk stand and Cllr Baird has not reported on her negotiations regarding flower troughs.

6. MATTERS RAISED BY THE CHAIRMAN

Cllr Hickman has received a request from Katrina Milverton for a grant for a Keep Fit and Mindfulness Class which is held at the Parish Hall every Friday for the benefit of anyone in the village. Discussion took place and it was resolved that a grant of £100 should be made as this is another means of bringing like-minded parishioners together and thus a cheque was duly authorised.

7. FINANCE

7.1 Bank Balance at Nat West at 31st December 2017

Current A/c

£200.00

Business Reserve A/c 1

£30,264.36

Business Reserve A/c 2

£3,404.10

£33,868.46

Income

7.2 1 School Houses rent to 30th January 2018 £675.00 - £64.80 (includes £10.80 VAT) = £610.20.

7.3 2 School Houses rent to 1st February 2018 £800.00 - £76.80 (includes £12.80 VAT) = £723.20.

Expenditure

The following expenditure was proposed and seconded for payment. All in favour and the cheques were signed by Councillors Belt and Phillips.

7.4 Whitestone Parish Hall Management Committee (January) £108.00 Cheque 380

7.5 Clerk’s expenses/quarterly salary £298.32 Cheque 381

7.6 Cllr Munro £13.45 (P3 Expenses) Cheque 382

7.7 Ms K Milverton £100.00 Cheque 383

8. CORRESPONDENCE

8.1 Devon Association of Local Councils - invitation to make a nomination for attendance at the Royal Garden Party on 5th June 2018. It was resolved that Cllr Mary Belt’s name should be put forward and the necessary forms were passed to her for completion.

8.2 Teignbridge District Council - confirmation that the Environmental Control Department will investigate the allegedly leaking septic tank at Nadderwater.

8.3 Teign Housing - confirmation that the complaint regarding parking at Crossway will be investigated.

8.4 Response from Jamie Hewitt, Devon Highway Officer, regarding overgrown hedges betweenChapel Cottage and Southlands and he has confirmed that a request has been made to the contractor that any diversion of traffic as a result of road works shall avoid Church Lane.

9. REPORTS

9.1 Cllr Belt requested that a report be made to Teignbridge District Council regarding the rubbish spilled onto the roads during the bin collections.

9.2 Cllr Hickman presented the anti litter campaign posters specifically targeting dropping litter from cars which he had received and Cllrs Hickman and Reed volunteered to put these in place.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

Mrs Greenfield gave the following report on behalf of the Parish Plan Steering Committee:- “Post the Christmas and New Year break we have been working through ‘snags’ to ensure a clear print run for the documents”.

Mrs Greenfield noted that no repairs or replacements had been carried out on finger posts throughout the Parish as reported in July last and the Clerk reported that she had received notification from Devon Highways Officer in August that the order had been passed to the contractor to make the necessary replacements.

The meeting closed at 8.45pm.

Signed ___________________ 15th February 2018

Comments by email welcome

info@whitestone-devon.org.uk